By Fakhar Alam
PESHAWAR, Aug 12 (APP):No doubt, the digital revolution and exponential growth in use of telecommunication technology in the country has made life easy but it has also brought about numerous health hazards, particularly for children and teenagers.
The dependency on cellular phones has increased manifold as it has become an integral part of human life. In many countries, over half of the population uses mobile phones and according to available data, the number of internet users increased to over 5.03 billion equivalent to 63.1 percent of the total world’s population.
At the same time, the health problems related to excessive use of mobile phones have also aggravated, especially for the children and teenagers who were exposed to psychological, medical and eyesight issues.
Fazl Rabbani, Head of Psychiatry Department, Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar told APP that excessive use of mobile phones affects the bond of love and affections between children and parents besides creating emotional and cognitive problems.
“The response of children aged below five years using mobile and smart phones for cartoons and other games towards mothers and fathers was found less attentive than those kids playing games in the open and ultimately the former become victims of anxiety, frustration, stress and depression besides sleep disturbance,” Dr Fazal said.
With the rising trend of digital adaptation and use of social media, the number of internet users continued to increase at an annual rate of about four percent and the current trends indicate that two-thirds of the world’s population would be online by June 2023.
Despite being a developing country, the number of mobile subscribers in Pakistan had crossed 195 million with an overall tele-density of 88.34pc in June 2022 against 181 million cellular subscribers with overall tele-density of 85 percent in May 2021, showing an increase of 3.34 percent growth during this period, according to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
Likewise, the number of broadband subscribers had crossed 119 million with 53.92 percent penetrations, two million telephony subscribers with 1.19 percent tele-density and 116 million 3G and 4G subscribers having 42.55 percent penetration after extension of 3G and 4G services to South Waziristan in KP.
Dr Fazl Rabbani said the unchecked use of mobile phones by children and teenagers leads to poor performance in education and co-curricular activities of students besides taking them to isolation.
He said most patients bring their children to doctors with complaints of multiple health issues including anxiety, depression, aggressive behavior, pain in backbone, wrists and hand mainly due to excessive use of smartphone and tablets.
“The children also become victims of malnourishment, stunted growth and low immunity thus making such kids vulnerable to fatal diseases like pneumonia, anxiety and mental disorders,” he added.
He said the physicians regularly counsel patients about medical risks associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes and smoking but nobody talks about the adverse effects of smart phones at educational and health institutes and during driving.
Dr Muhammad Idress Khan, Assistant Professor Ophthalmology, LRH said that people of all age groups, especially children and teenagers were most vulnerable to ocular diseases including near slightness (myopia), asthenopia, and ocular surface ailments due to excessive use of smart phones and related devices.
“The use of smartphones with full brightness causes blurredness and poor eyesight,” he said, adding time restrictions on smart phones and intermittent blinking of eyes during continuous use of digital devices could prevent ocular and visual abnormalities.
Dr Idress said the mobile phones also carry germs because these are not washable and rapid exchange of devices could transmit multiple infectious diseases including coronavirus.
He said that since the use of mobile phones and other digital devices started in recent decades and a lot of research is required to ascertain whether its radiation could cause brains and eye tumors.
According to available data, 92.1 percent of internet users in the world use a mobile phone to go online and mobile phones now account for more than 55 percent of our online time and 60 percent of the world’s web traffic.
As a result of the availability of smart phones, the number of social media’s users reached 4.70 billion in July 2022 in world indicating that almost 94 percent of internet users were now using social media every month.
Similarly, over 227 million new users had joined social media in the last 12 months with more than 620,000 new users every day and seven new users every single second across the globe.
“My life got better when I left using my smartphone and started giving time to my family,” said Naveed Farooq, Assistant Professor, Abdul Wali Khan University while talking to the news agency.
He said that smart phones had consumed a lot of his precious time that he should have spent with his family and friends. He urged people to give time to their families, especially children and convince them to read books rather than wasting time on social media platforms.